Full circle for world-class New Zealander Anu Anandaraja

Anu Anandaraja and Joanna Simon

Caption: Dr Natasha Anu Anandaraja and the Starship Foundation chief executive Joanna Simon at the Kea World Class New Zealand Awards

Dr Natasha Anu Anandaraja says receiving a Kea World Class New Zealand Award from the Starship Foundation was like coming full circle.  

“It’s deeply meaningful to me. It is like coming full circle - and I am grateful for this chance to reconnect and be part of the Starship family again.” 

Her career began in paediatrics at Starship more than 20 years ago. She attributes her time at Starship to helping place her in a highly competitive paediatric residence programme at Mount Sinai, New York City. 

“Although it was intimidating to transition from Auckland to NYC, I quickly found that the training I had received at Starship was world-class, and it has set a high standard for my work as a paediatrician ever since.” 

Born and raised in Taranaki, Anu is now a leader on the world stage.   

Anu’s a staunch equity advocate, and while she was grateful to get into a competitive paediatric programme at a world-leading hospital, the practices she saw there caused her to take action.  

She has filed a federal case against Mount Sinai for sex, age, and race discrimination, forming a group called Equity Now to provide a platform for women to speak about discrimination in the healthcare system, and advocate for gender equity in healthcare. 

“I got told it would be career suicide, but being a Kiwi gives you that sense of ‘we can do it’. We’re a little country at the bottom of the world, and if something needs to be done, then let’s do it.” 

Watch Anu share her story. 

She is also the Founder and Director of Women Together, empowering women and girls in underserved communities through education and economic independence.

And she is the co-founder of Covid Courage which mobilised volunteers and donors to procure, produce and distribute over 30,000 pieces of PPE to healthcare facilities, schools, mutual aid organisations, and essential workers in communities across New York and New Jersey. 

Starship Foundation’s Chief Executive Joanna Simon was delighted to present the award to Anu on 7 September, 2023. 

“I can’t think of a more deserving winner. It was lovely to reconnect with Anu who speaks so highly of her time at Starship, and we are proud that she has gone on to become a leader on the world stage.”  

“Congratulations Anu from us all at Starship. We look forward to continuing our partnership and working together for better health and brighter futures for New Zealand children.” 

Anu with child

Caption: Anu is the Founder and Director of Women Together empowering women and girls in underserved communities.